How to use the five colours of de Caluwé and Vermaak

Why use this framework?

Expectations about change tend to vary with different people in different situations. Léon de Caluwé and Hans Vermaak have developed a framework for interpreting this variety. When you know what other people expect change to look like you can be more effective in your change efforts.

The point of the framework is not that there is one perfect approach to change. The framework is meant as a tool for dialogue about change. If necessary you can adjust your change effort to get a better fit with the expectations people have of change.

It is important to be aware of your own ideas about what change should look like before you start a dialogue with others about your ideas. You can find the test here on the website of Hans Vermaak

Which colours are there and what do they mean?

five colours of change by de Caluwé and Vermaak
  • White view: People view the organization as ever changing. This means that when you are managing change you need to channel that energy constructively and help it along. People will expect room for self organization during your change efforts.
  • Yellow view: People view the organization as a place which thrives on competing interests and negotiation. This means that you need to negotiate on the important items of your change efforts. People will expect to see stakeholder management and politics to help effect change.
  • Green view: People view the organization as a living and learning organism. Your change effort will be expected to have learning and improving as the driving force.
  • Red view: People feel that their organization and change efforts work best when motivating and stimulating your employees. Invest in HRM processes and people to make change work.
  • Blue view: People view the organization as a set of processes and rules. Change is about rationality, changing the processes and rules.

Why do I think this framework is helpful?

Change hardly ever goes the way you had planned in advance. This framework can help you and your stakeholders in evaluating where the mismatch in expectations may be occurring. You can then decide to stay the course or adjust. What works best will differ in each organization and situation, which is why having a dialogue about change and the expectations around it is crucial. Want to learn more? Take a look at the longread in the membership area.


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